The latest Morgan face-to-face poll shows Labor’s two-party lead at 56.5-43.5, down from the surprisingly strong 58.5-41.5 recorded a fortnight ago. Labor is down 1.5 per cent on the primary vote to 46 per cent and the Coalition are up 2.5 per cent to 38 per cent, with the Greens down 1.5 per cent to 8.5 per cent. Other news:

• Belinda Neal faces a preselection challenge in Robertson from Deborah O’Neill, education teacher at the University of Newcastle and narrowly unsuccessful state candidate for Gosford in 2003. According to Peter van Onselen of The Australian, O’Neill’s challenge has “the tacit approval of NSW Labor Right powerbrokers”, with Labor sources backing recent reports that party polling shows Neal headed for defeat. John Della Bosca, however, is feared to be ready to “pull out all stops to save his wife”. Members of Labor’s Ourimbah have passed a motion calling on Belinda Neal to bow out, but according to Neal, the branch consists of “approximately six members”. Interestingly, the Prime Minister has been making positive noises about Neal recently. The Daily Telegraph reports police officer Darren Jameson has as expected been preselected as Liberal candidate, despite earlier suggestions former member Jim Lloyd would seek to make a comeback.

• Labor’s member for the north Queensland seat of Dawson, James Bidgood, has announced he will bow out at the next election for health reasons. Bidgood gained the seat from Nationals member De-Anne Kelly in 2007 after picking up a 13.2 per cent swing, and has been chiefly noted since for offering the media pictures he had taken of a protester setting fire to himself in front of Parliament House, and saying the global financial crisis was a result of God “bringing judgement”. Labor’s margin after the election was 3.2 per cent, which the redistribution has reduced to 2.4 per cent.

• David Elliott, chief executive of the Civil Contractors Federation and one-time press secretary to Opposition Leader Peter Collins, has launched a preselection challenge against state upper house member and Right faction powerbroker David Clarke. Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reports Elliott previously had his eyes on the lower house seat of Riverstone. He unsuccessfully contested preselection for the federal seat of Mitchell against Clarke’s arch-rival of the Right, Alex Hawke. Clarke has the backing of Barry O’Farrell, and according to Salusinszky may find unlikely support from the Left. Nonetheless, Andrew Clennell of the Sydney Morning Herald reckons Clarke to be “at serious risk of losing” due to backing for Elliott from Nick Campbell, state party president and an ally of Hawke.

• The Nationals have preselected David Gillespie to run against independent Rob Oakeshott in Lyne.

• The Australian Electoral Commission has announced the timetable for the federal redistribution of Victoria, which Antony Green explains will definitely not be in effect before the next election.

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